Ramdev's eviction sets off political war of words
The dramatic eviction of Baba Ramdev in the middle of night in a swoop by Delhi police on Sunday set off a slugfest between the UPA and the Sangh Parivar and the yoga guru who announced that he would continue his agitation against black money.Updated: Jun 05, 2011 19:41 IST
The dramatic eviction of Baba Ramdev in the middle of night in a swoop by Delhi police on Sunday set off a slugfest between the UPA and the Sangh Parivar and the yoga guru who announced that he would continue his agitation against black money.
The first political fallout of the police action was the decision of civil society activists led by Anna Hazare to boycott Monday's meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal and the threat to resume the agitation in Jantar Mantar.
The police action of firing teargas shells and lathicharge on people in the Ramlila Maidan who were woken up in their sleep in the dead of the night drew sharply critical attacks from BJP and chief ministers Mayawati, Nitish Kumar, Prakash Singh Badal and Naveen Patnaik and former CMs Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chandrababu Naidu.
But the government and the Congress came out in strong defence of the decision to evict the 46-year-old Ramdev and legions of his followers, accusing him of going back on his word of withdrawing his fast after reaching an understanding on the issue of measures to bring back black money stashed abroad.
The political war erupted hours after Ramdev, who jumped from a three-metre-high podium and tried to escape disguised as a woman, was served with an externment order that barred him entry into the capital for a fortnight.
He was bundled into a police van before dawn and flown to Haridwar in a small plane. The police action came after the government and Ramdev traded barbs accusing each other of betrayal.
With the government decision drawing flak, Congress leadership met at the Prime Minister's residence which was attended by Sonia Gandhi and senior cabinet ministers.
The top BJP leadership met in the capital and condemned the police action, saying it reminded the days of Emergency.
Over 60 people including 23 policemen were injured in the action. Ramdev claimed a Gurgaon resident has been paralysed in the police attack and a woman from Andhra Pradesh has suffered injuries in both her legs.
The midnight action triggered a war of words between government and the Sangh Parivar which threw its full weight behind the yoga guru. The government, which cited intelligence inputs of terror threat to Ramdev's life, ruled out further talks with him saying he was getting "unreasonable".
Civil society activists led by Anna Hazare, who are currently leading a campaign for a strong Lokpal Bill, decided not to participate in the meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee with ministers in protest against the police action.
Support for Ramdev came from from chief ministers including Mayawati, Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and former chief ministers Chandrababu Naidu and Mulayam Singh Yadav.
However, Congress guns blazed against Ramdev with party general secretary Digvijay Singh accusing him of inciting people despite striking a deal with the government for ending his protest.
Calling him a "fraud", Singh demanded an inquiry into the "thousands of crores of rupees" of property said to be owned by Ramdev.
Subodh Kant Sahay, said to be close to Ramdev and was one of the union ministers negotiating with him, charged him with going back on his word to end the fast and pursuing a political agenda.
He ruled out further talks with Ramdev saying whatever talks had to happen has already happened.
The other minister Kapil Sibal, part of the negotiating team, said the action had the full backing of the government and the party.
"Absolutely 100%. No such action takes place without 100% unity in the government and the party," he told reporters when asked whether the action had the endorsement of the party.
First Published: Jun 05, 2011 19:40 IST